Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
On tonight’s Oprah’s Next Chapter, TV showrunner Shonda Rhimes reveals how she felt when former Grey’s Anatomy reguler Katherine Heigl said in 2008 she wanted her name taken out of Emmy consideration because she hadn’t been “given the material to warrant a nomination” in the show’s writing. Winfrey asks Rhimes, …
Shonda Rhimes, creator of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and Scandal, is producing another drama for the network with a female lead… sort of. ABC has put in development MILA 2.0, a sci-fi thriller about a young woman who discovers that she is a Mobile Intel Life-like Android, Mila, an experiment in artificial intelligence created by the U.S. government and her scientist mother, who kidnapped her when she was found to have human emotions. Dave DiGilio will write the drama project based on the book Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza, which is being published in March by Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. It is planned to be the first in a sci-fi book series. DiGilio executive produces with Shondaland’s Rhimes and Betsy Beers. ABC Studios, where Shondaland is based, is producing.
EXCLUSIVE: Shonda Rhimes‘ Shondaland has set up two projects — including its first half-hour comedy, I Hate LA Dudes, from writer Issa Rae (Web series The Misadventures Of Awkward Black Girl) — that have been sold to ABC. Also at the network, Shondaland has The Mix, a comedic drama written by John Hoffman (Igor) set behind the scenes of a The View/The Talk-type morning talk show. With Rhimes busy shepherding three series she created — ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and Scandal — she and her producing partner at Shondaland Betsy Beers focused on developing with other writers this season. The two executive produce both I Hate LA Dudes and The Mix, which hail from ABC Studios where ICM Partners-repped Shondaland is based.
“We want the very good and the bad.” That’s what American Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe said this afternoon is the core of the competition show. “It’s the bland people in the middle we want to get rid …
Diane Haithman contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
Shonda Rhimes, whose new series Scandal premiers on Thursday, was flooded with questions about her old ones – Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice — at tonight’s panel “Welcome to ShondaLand: An Evening With Shonda Rhimes & Friends” at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre in North Hollywood. Questioners eager to find out how the seasons will end for two key couples: Meredith and Derek of Grey’s (Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey) and Charlotte and Cooper of Practice (KaDee Strickland and Paul Adelstein), weren’t able to drag much information out of Rhimes, Pompeo or Strickland (the panel also included Grey’s Sandra Oh, Private Practice cast member Taye Diggs and, from Scandal,Kerry Washington, Tony Goldwyn and Katie Lowes). “I don’t know,” said Pompeo. “I know that Shonda usually writes the [season] finale, so it’s going to be good. So who cares? Let’s just wait.” Rhimes confirmed that she is writing the episode, but wouldn’t say whether it will see Meredith and Derek in their “dream house”. “I would have said yes three days ago, but I went into the writer’s room and totally dismantled the finale again, so I don’t know,” Rhimes said, to laughter.
Here is the second-annual honor roll of the best and brightest at the broadcast upfront. First off, to all who got their pilots picked up to series — congratulations. You’re already winners. This is a list of those who took their upfront success to an extra level:
Whitney Cummings: The undisputed queen of Upfront 2011. She is behind two new comedy series that are among the highest-profile new half-hour entries next fall. She created, stars in and executive produces her eponymous comedy for NBC, which was assigned the network’s best comedy slot, following The Office. She also co-wrote on spec with Michael Patrick King the CBS comedy 2 Broke Girls, which broke records as CBS’ best-testing pilot (comedy or drama) ever. Both were the first comedy pilots to get a series order at their networks. Cummings, who also has a talk show in contention at E!, will serve as an executive producer on 2 Broke Girls but will be full-time on Whitney, which was in first position. I hope that doesn’t impact 2 Broke Girls, which King is expected to run/co-run, because the pilot indeed looks great. Honorable mention in the category of creators with multiple projects for Andrew Reich and Ted Cohen. One of their two ABC pilots, Work It, was picked up to series, while the other, Smothered, is very much in contention for midseason.
What a comeback for J.J. Abrams! After his high-profile NBC drama Undercovers went bust last fall, some questioned whether the networks will continue to bet on him. But bet they did this upfront, with both pilots he produced, CBS’ Person of Interest and Fox’s Alcatraz, going to series. Person of Interest instantly became one of the most anticipated new fall series when CBS made it its new Thursday 9 PM anchor. The network also said it was its best-testing drama pilot ever. And over at Fox, Alcatraz prevailed over several high-profile pilots to land one of only two drama series spots. Then, as icing on the cake, Abrams’ modestly rated but well-liked Fox sci-fi series Fringe got a renewal for next season, bringing the producer’s series for next season to three.
At ABC, it feels a lot like 2004 this pilot season. Seven years ago, ABC had one of those lighting-in-a-bottle development cycle that resulted in the launch of 3 mega-hit new series in a single season – Marc Cherry’s Desperate Housewives, Shonda Rhimes’ Grey’s Anatomy and J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof’s Lost.
In a twist of a development fate, ABC’s drama pilot slate this year is highlighted by Cherry and Rhimes’s first creations since Housewives and Grey’s/spinoff Private Practice, respectively: Cherry has the small town drama pilot Hallelujah, and Rhimes penned an untitled drama pilot about a professional fixer. (Rhimes has exec produced other projects since, including series Off the Map and pilot Inside the Box, but this is the first script she has written.) Additionally, Lindelof was involved in the development of another ABC drama pilot this season, Once Upon a Time, from Lost executive producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz.